Looking over Quoteboards allows you to refresh your memory over buzz comments that were made. There’s one that has stuck in my mind and has me wondering.
This is what Mark Cuban said when the front office has to decide the worth of perspective free agents versus years and money and deciding whether or not to pursue:
“We don’t try to win the summer. We don’t try to say okay, we’re going to give a guy a lot of money. He’s got to be worth the money. There are guys that are team difference makers and none of these guys that you’ve mentioned (like Goran Dragic) went to a team and that signed as a free agent and turned them around. What kind of impact would he have on your team? End of story. That’s it. How many games can he win me, if at all? If he’s not going to be a difference-maker why would you do it (sign him to a lengthy contract)?
“I have to look at Donnie and Rick. Donnie’s going to say don’t do it and Rick’s going to say don’t do it. I’m going to say to Donnie, should we do it? And he’ll say no. Teams sign guys all the time that they end up having to get rid of all the time. And it’s just a different animal when you’re trading for him and you get off a guy and you have to take bad contracts to get a good contract. We’re wide open for whatever puts us in a position to get a difference maker and if we can’t then we’ll deal with whatever it is.”
When you really look at it, there ARE difference makers in this pool of free agents. The obvious names are Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum. Bynum and he knucklehead nature is a totally different situation based on injuries and he will be discussed at a later time. That leaves Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. The Lakers were swept out of the first round of the playoffs. The Clippers are on the ropes in their first round matchup. For the sake of this article, let’s assume difference makers are going to be off the market. If that is the case, what does Dallas do?
I actually think Dallas is in a different situation than where they were last summer. Last summer, I thought a guy like Goran Dragic actually was a great fit as a point guard to grow and develop and I still stand by that. Cuban does have a point though by suggesting he really hasn’t been a difference maker. Phoenix is terrible. There’s no other way to describe it. They’re not bad due to Dragic, but he definitely hasn’t done anything to help fix what ails them. Dallas probably couldn’t afford to take a substantial gamble on a guy like Dragic last year with the money and the years he received in Phoenix.
Back to my thought, they’re in a different spot this summer, and a year can truly make a difference. While the difference makers will likely stay with their teams, I think Dallas can afford to take a gamble on a guy like Dragic – someone who has the talent, but you’re just not 100 percent sold. Unless they find a way to pull the rabbit out of their hat to acquire one of the true difference makers or pull off a trade that brings one in, Dallas will have even more cap space to work with in the summer of 2014 to work with.
If the difference makers are gone, Dallas can’t punt this summer away and work again on just lotto tickets with one-year contract guys. They need to go ahead and start building towards the core. They need to find pieces they believe will either be ready to be a role player within the next season or 2014 at the absolute latest. If things work in their favor, they’ll find the right players, bring Dirk Nowitzki back at a major hometown discount and still have plenty of room to work with to bring more players into the mix. If the difference makers are gone and they still work with this mindset, it might lead to a disappointing exit in the playoffs but they’ll be more attractive to a potential free agent. Cap space is nice, but assets on the floor with the cap space would be even more attractive to free agents you’re going to try to recruit.
Now with building for the future this way there is a danger of falling into the trap the front office for the Detroit Pistons fell into during the 2009 season. They had cap space, couldn’t lure a big name free agent and decided to blow their cap space on marginal talent. It crippled them and they’re still recovering from that mistake. With the implications of the CBA, it’s hard to imagine Dallas will fall into that same trap.
Dallas will have plenty of time to look through their spreadsheets and analytics to avoid that mistake. They will do their homework. They won’t need much time to look at them when it comes to the difference makers. They’ll need to carefully spend their time looking at those next tier players and decide which ones are the potential role players for the future.
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He also attended Ball So Hard University, studying ideologies of Clark Kent. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.